Last Friday, three-star cornerback/safety Jayden Bellamy became Notre Dame’s 17th commitment of the 2022 class, choosing the Irish over Penn State and Rutgers, among others. Bellamy officially visited on June 18th-20th, obviously, things went very well, and gave the Irish coaches his verbal commitment shortly before announcing officially on July 2nd.
Bellamy was the second Irish commitment in the secondary for Marcus Freeman and co., the first being four-star cornerback Jaden Mickey, who committed in the spring. Devin Moore became the third on Sunday night. The remaining targets are three-star safety Jake Pope, and four-star safety Xavier Nwankpa. Four-star corner Benjamin Morrison is also a possibility, but he has been trending away from the Irish for the last couple of weeks.
There has been some debate over whether Notre Dame wants Bellamy as a corner prospect or safety, and that may depend on how the rest of the class comes together. If Pope and Nwankpa commit, Bellamy will surely be used at corner. If it’s just one of those two, there is a great chance they look at him in the back. But, where is he better suited? Let’s check the tape.
Bellamy At Corner
Size wise Bellamy is more of a fit as a corner, standing at 5-11 and about 170 pounds. His speed is hard to pin down; he doesn’t have any recent verified times to reference, either in track or in a 40-yard dash. But, he plays with the confidence of a player who trusts his speed. He doesn’t peddle hard at the snap to maintain cushion and isn’t uncomfortable playing square to a receiver in the slot. If a player doesn’t trust his speed and is afraid of getting run by, he’ll often do everything he can to maintain a good distance from the receiver. Bellamy doesn’t do this and it results in him eating up shorter routes teams run at him.
He’s also a very patient player in coverage and is usually in good position. He’s not a grabby player who risks penalties against his team. He trusts his speed to make plays on the ball, he doesn’t jump routes unnecessarily.
He played corner his sophomore season prior to moving to Bergen Catholic as a junior. It was primarily as an off-man defender or in a zone, something he’s not likely to play in the Marcus Freeman defense, who is a lot more aggressive with his corners. Obviously, the staff has seen evidence this is something he can do, but it’s something to take note of.
Bellamy At Safety
A general consensus has emerged that Bellamy is a better safety prospect, and I can understand the thinking there. He is tremendous when looking in at the quarterback, both at corner and safety. He also is very good at play recognition; he’s not easily fooled or chasing routes he shouldn’t, even when the offense is trying to manipulate him. I’d go so far as to say he is close to elite in that regard. He’s constantly around the ball.
The main issue is likely his lack of prototypical size. The chances of him getting physically overwhelmed at times are notable, and we just saw how a smaller safety can get put into bad spots with Shaun Crawford. Of course, the main issue with Crawford was the injuries negated his main asset, speed and explosiveness. Would Crawford have been such a liability without the injuries? I’d have to think not. And the fact is, if Bellamy suffers the types of injuries Crawford did, then his career will be negatively affected all the same. That shouldn’t have an impact on how Notre Dame projects him.
As a lover of safeties, it’s really hard for me to look away from the instincts and ball skills Bellamy shows, it’s just a rare trait. If you’ve got a player who can feel plays, understand what the offense wants to do, and then capitalize, it’s hard for me to say I don’t want him back there all the time.
Where He Should Play
I think Bellamy can play corner, he looks to me like a more explosive version of Clarence Lewis when he was in high school. Clarence Lewis is obviously a good corner for Notre Dame. I just really hope it works out that Bellamy can play with his eyes in the backfield. Get the playmakers out there I say, whatever the size dimensions are. Bellamy is athletic enough, shows enough physicality to hang in there against the run, and has elite instincts. Whatever the case though, the secondary added a great skillset who can play multiple positions, never a bad thing.